Are air fresheners bad for the lungs?

Air fresheners and room sprays: room fragrances trigger allergies

How smells manipulate the subconscious is noticeable at the latest when another piece of cake ends up in the bag at the bakery: The fresh smell of baking was just too tempting. Fresh flowers, oven-warm cookies or sweet strawberries: When pleasant smells fill your nose, you feel good. Smells influence the mood - this is why room fragrances are so popular. But not every fragrance that flatters the nose is also good.

Scented candles, incense sticks, aroma lamps or room sprays: there are plenty of small fragrances in stores to give your own home a special smell. The artificial fragrances should spread a pleasant atmosphere when eating, on the sofa or in the bedroom. Smells can also be dispelled with room fragrances - for example, the sprays and candles can cover up cigarette smoke, kitchen fumes and the smells of the pet.

From the nose straight to the head

The room fragrances not only have an effect on the apartment, but also on the mind. The mostly very intense smells of the room sprays go straight to the brain and cause a change in mood. Citrus scents such as grapefruit, orange or lime have a refreshing and motivating effect. "Essential oils with the scent of citrus peel are particularly suitable for the study," advises Katharina Zeh, an aroma expert from Berlin. The aroma of lavender on the other hand, calm the body. That is why its fragrance is particularly suitable for the bedroom.

Pay attention to ingredients

When buying a room fragrance or air freshener, however, you should pay attention to the ingredients and, if possible, not choose any products whose ingredients could trigger or intensify allergies. However, the ingredients of most fragrance sprays are not shown, warns Alexandra Borchard-Becker from the consumer initiative in Berlin. The packaging only mentions "essential oils" - but the consumer does not find out which oil is involved.

This can be a problem especially for allergy sufferers, as they have a sensitive bronchial system. Fragrances can irritate almost all sensory organs, explains Esther Coors from the allergy department at the Hamburg University Hospital. "Reactions to strong smells can be a runny nose, itchy eyes, but also asthma or eczema on the skin." A contact allergy can occur if you stay for a long time in a room with a lot of fragrance in the air. The fragrances settled on the skin, which reacted irritated.

Sense of smell tricked

Katharina Zeh explains the crux of the matter: "The brain switches off the sense of smell after about 15 minutes." Therefore, many added more and sprayed more of the drug, believing that they can no longer smell the smell. But this is only a delusion of the brain. Not only allergy sufferers are irritated by the fragrances: "In children's rooms you should also refrain from using fragrance sprays," recommends Coors. Children reacted particularly to the allergenic potential of many fragrances - they are more likely to get respiratory diseases. "The fragrances that often trigger contact allergies include, for example, sandalwood oil, oakmoss absolute, isoeugenol or ylang-ylang oil," says Coors.

If you still don't want to do without the scent, the product should be used sparingly and only for a short time. "With essential fragrance oils, for example, two to three drops are enough to fill an aroma lamp sufficiently," advises Katharina Zeh. It is also advisable to ventilate well afterwards. Room spray should also only be sprayed into the air and not used on pillowcases, curtains or clothing.

Do-it-yourself fragrances

As an alternative to chemical room sprays, you can also make potpourris yourself: Dried flower petals, orange or apple slices and dried herbs are suitable for this. The smell is not that strong, but you know exactly what is contained, recommends Alexandra Borchardt-Becker. In order to avoid the risk of allergies completely, the consumer adviser advises: "Better ventilate the apartment, get to the bottom of the source of the unpleasant smell and eliminate it".